Songs from the Edge of Japan: Music-making in Yaeyama and Okinawa

1st Edition

Matt Gillan

Routledge
Published November 15, 2016
Reference - 240 Pages
ISBN 9781138261242 - CAT# Y314057

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Summary

Since the early 1990s, Okinawan music has experienced an extraordinary boom in popularity throughout Japan. Musicians from this island prefecture in the very south of Japan have found success as performers and recording artists, and have been featured in a number of hit films and television dramas. In particular, the Yaeyama region in the south of Okinawa has long been known as a region rich in performing arts, and Yaeyaman musicians such as BEGIN, Daiku Tetsuhiro, and Natsukawa Rimi have been at the forefront of the recent Okinawan music boom. This popularity of Okinawan music represents only the surface of a diverse and thriving musical culture within modern-day Yaeyama. Traditional music continues to be an important component of traditional ritual and social life in the islands, while Yaeyama's unique geographical and cultural position at the very edge of Japan have produced varied discourses surrounding issues such as tradition versus modernity, preservation, and cultural identity. Songs from the Edge of Japan explores some of the reasons for the high profile of Yaeyaman music in recent years, both inside and outside Yaeyama. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork carried out since 2000, the book uses interviews, articles from the popular media, musical and lyrical analysis of field and commercial recordings, as well as the author's experiences as a performer of Yaeyaman and Okinawan music, to paint a picture of what it means to perform Yaeyaman music in the 21st century.

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